In amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), neighborhood may be everything, if a new study in mouse models of the disease holds true for patients.
ALS, or Lou Gehrigs disease, brings about a gradual death of the motor neurons that activate muscles. Paralysis follows. But according to work described today in the journal Science, the cells that are next to motor neurons -- but arent themselves nerve cells -- can play a major role in advancing or limiting the disease.
"What weve been given is a new principle for extending survival or, perhaps, overcoming ALS, based on how many healthy cells surround an ailing motor nerve cell," says Don Cleveland, Ph.D., a scientist with The Packard Center for ALS Research at Johns Hopkins and, with Larry Goldstein, Ph.D., co-leader of the research team. "All this has great implications for stem cell therapy," he adds. "We now believe delivery of normal, non-neuronal cells to spinal cords could be completely protective, even without replacement of a single motor neuron."
Joanna Downer | EurekAlert!
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